Google Tech Hub American Underground Hosts Exchange To Fund Black Startups

Weeklong immersion program to run this fall to help black founders raise seed money

The North Carolina tech hub American Underground has announced a first-of-its-kind program with Google for Entrepreneurs that is expressly focused on supporting African American founders raising a seed round (less than $750,000). The weeklong immersion program will run this fall  from Oct. 9–15. “The goal is to fund at least 50% of the participating teams within nine months of their participation in the program—and we’ll work our butts off to this end,” says Jesica Averhart, who is the director of Community Partnerships and New Business Development at American Underground, a leader in funding, jobs, and resources for minority-led businesses.

Located in Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina, American Underground is one of the North American tech hubs in the Google for Entrepreneurs network and home to more than 240 startups, investors, and university offices. Google for Entrepreneurs partners with tech hubs to help local startup communities.

[Related: Raleigh-Durham Is Startup Capital of the South]

American Underground will play host to the Exchange program and is one of the pioneers in inclusive innovation with nearly 30% of its startups led by women and 22% led by founders from underrepresented groups. This Exchange will connect participants with investors, entrepreneurs, and technologists that will provide tools and tips to help them through the fundraising process. The week will culminate with Durham’s annual celebration of Black Wall Street Homecoming (in conjunction with HBCU North Carolina Central University) which welcomes venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and others in the entrepreneurial community to Durham.

Closing Funding Gap For Black Businesses

Research shows a significant gap in funding for African American founders. Capital matters for those starting businesses for a variety of reasons. A business that starts from a strong financial position is more likely to be able to scale based on opportunities that arise and adapt to challenges, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Startups with more initial funding are also more likely to receive additional sources of funding during financing rounds, notes the Kauffman Foundation.

“With that in mind, we have worked to build an extensive network of funders and mentors committed to inclusion and diversity and want to bring that network to bear for black-led startups across the country. We want to show them the incredible startup community in Durham,” says Averhart.

Details about the program and application are here. Organizers are not focused on specific industry verticals and have mentors lined up in everything from B2B and B2C software to consumer products The deadline to apply is Aug. 23.